Terry Pratchett managed to write two books a year (both critically and commercially acclaimed) before his untimely death at the age of 66 – in a world where some of us struggle to compose an email.
He has some valuable advice for us on the difference between having a great idea, and actually doing the work needed to make it real:
“In all seriousness, people think that it’s the ideas that are important. Well, everyone has ideas, all the time. I tend to write mine down and remember them, but at some point you have to apply the bum to the seat and knock out about sixty five thousand words – that’s how long a novel is.”
A little bit of arithmetic can help us write better, work smarter, and do more…
If you woke up a little earlier, sat down at your desk (or in a coffee shop or at the kitchen table) and wrote 500 words a day (which anyone can do), it’d take you 130 days to write 65,000 words – the length of a decent sized novel.
Of course, not every single word you write is going to be pure gold. There’ll be rewrites and drafts and whole sections torn up. But you’ll have something. Something tangible. Something you can actually scribble all over in red ink, rework and talk about. And that’s infinitely better than the idea of something magnificent.
This school of thought applies to everything, not just writing. Starting a business, recording an album, getting a degree. It all takes time, and we all have time to spare (even if you think you don’t).
Just watch. Little by little, the compound interest of your actions will sum to something much greater. One day at a time.
For more on the topic, check out this excellent talk from filmmaker, CEO and YouTube sensation Casey Neistat: